Statues for equality: Australian artists unveil sculptures of 10 women in NY

Statues of famous women, such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey (left) and astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson (right), by artist couple Gillie and Marc Schattner.
Statues of famous women, such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey (left) and astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson (right), by artist couple Gillie and Marc Schattner. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

NEW YORK • Ten statues of famous women were installed in New York last week as the first part of an international project by Australian artists to highlight gender imbalance in monuments.

Media mogul and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett and three-time Olympic gold medallist Gabby Douglas were among the personalities chosen by the public to be carved in bronze.

The statues, which stand around 2m tall, are the work of husband-and-wife sculpting duo Gillie and Marc Schattner, who want women to be fairly represented in public art.

They say on their website that less than 3 per cent of New York's statues are of women. The figure is 3 per cent in London and 4 per cent in Sydney, they add.

"It's gorgeous!" said 46-year-old Leslie Daniels as she stopped to look at the installation on Manhattan's Sixth Avenue near Rockefeller Centre.

"We women are great contributors to society and they just overlook us. It is uplifting to see this," she added.

The statues, unveiled last Monday to mark Women's Equality Day, feature inspirational women from different walks of life. They are mostly American and were nominated online.

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, singer Pink, actress Nicole Kidman and transgender author and activist Janet Mock are among those striking a powerful pose on a flower of their choosing.

Writer Cheryl Strayed, women's empowerment campaigner Tererai Trent and English conservationist Jane Goodall are also featured.

"I think it's great," said 42-year-old Corinne Gudovic from Chicago as she eyed the statue of Goodall.

"I wasn't extremely sure what it was for at first, but I'm always for women's empowerment and anything that demonstrates that is a good thing," she added.

Only five out of New York's 150 public statues are of women, according to the city's government. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to building more.

The Schattners plan to put up sculptures in other countries as well, including Australia and Britain, and are welcoming nominations on their website.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2019, with the headline 'Statues for equality: Australian artists unveil sculptures of 10 women in NY'. Print Edition | Subscribe